TROUBLE CITY

CHUD'S 50 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS, DAY 9

Movie NewsNick NunziataComment


Welcome to the next CHUD List.

We've tackled our essentials list and the continued revelation of our Kills List from 2003, and now that we've begun the beguine, we must continue. Behold:

The CHUD.com Top 50 Disappointments.

A quick word on the criteria. We could very easily have spent this whole article discussing sequels and prequels and adaptations of television shows and called it a day. Instead, we tried to go a different route. Also, from a master list of over 100, the involved parties (Devin, Jeremy, Micah, Russ, and myself) all killed off a choice for each one we claimed. As a result, we'll run a big list at the end of this of the 'ones that got away'. So, here is day one of many where we chronicle the 50 Biggest Disappointments. Two a day, every week day for five weeks. In no particular order:

http://chud.com/nextraimages/last_castle_ver1.jpg#34 - The Last Castle (2001. dir. Rod Lurie)

Because of Deterrence being a great little flick [and part of our last list] and The Contender being a solid entry it appeared that Rod Lurie was poised to become the latest reliable deliveryman of high quality intelligent motion pictures. Sort of an Alan J. Pakula/Sidney Lumet type with modern day sizzle.

The Last Castle looked to be his big coming out party. It had a very decent budget, The Horse Whisperer's weathered visage, James Gandolfini at the height of Sopranos fever pitch, a Jerry Goldsmith score with additional Tom Waits contributions, and Next Big Thing Mark Ruffalo.

And that poster. A striking image to be sure, one quickly changed in the wake of September 11th, 2001.

Meaty drama. High tension. Great actors sparring amidst blue and gray backdrops amidst chess metaphors galore. I was excited. It should have been one of those rare films that deliver that special mixture of mainstream entertainment and slightly highbrow class all in one fell swoop. Like 13 Days. Like All the President's Men. Like The Ewok Adventure.

But it was not meant to be, a sad truth made even more so by the fact this isn't a bad movie. It's just a vapor trail of good when it could have been a concussion blast. I guess the fact this thing was a such a dud is why Lurie hasn't really pulled it together since, his Commander in Chief series and his subsequent removal being the most recent slap in the jaws. Funnily enough, Lurie's transition from film critic to filmmaker doesn't get as much mileage as I thought it might as he and Stephen Hunter both have danced on both sides a lot better than their web counterparts. He's a talented filmmaker but it's amazing how one film can change your whole opinion of a guy. - Nick

Travesty Scale (1-10): 4 out of 10

http://chud.com/nextraimages/ghostbusters_ii_ver3.jpg#33 - Ghostbusters II (1989. dir. Ivan Reitman)

The problem with many sequels is that some crucial element – a writer, a director, a certain star, a budget – is gone. Realistically, no sequel can match up against an original film, which is why we’re trying not to include too many on this list. But every now and again a sequel so squanders every bit of potential that it deserves to be specifically singled out. Such a movie is Ghostbusters II.

I don’t feel that I am overstating the case when I say that Ghostbusters is one of the greatest comedies of all time. It’s a movie that I can revisit infinitely, partially because of the sharp joke writing, but mostly because of the characters: Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson et al bring these blue collar parapsychologists to glorious life, and by the end of the movie you’re cheering along with the throngs in New York, rooting for the boys in the jumpsuits.

All of which makes the sequel hurt that much more. It’s like no one wanted to invest even a moment of work into the film – instead of picking up the story from where the first film ended and getting ambitious (franchises? Global fame? Heading to new dimensions?), Ghostbusters II commits the worst sin of sequels: it reboots everything. All of a sudden, and for no really good narrative reason, our heroes are schlubs again. We enjoyed them overcoming the odds once, but that doesn’t mean we want to see it again. Even the love story begins again from square one, and the whole film has a ‘been there, done that’ vibe hanging over it. That feeling really coalesces at the end, when a supernatural giant is again walking through New York City – except that this time it’s the Ghostbusters guiding it! It’s the ol’ switcheroo! If only anyone fell for that shit in this day and age.

Sure, this is a loaded entry in the Disappointments list. There’s no way that Ghostbusters II would ever live up to the original, but I think we could have all been forgiving if there was even the slightest feeling that anyone behind the scenes was trying, even the littlest bit.
-Devin

Travesty Scale (1-10): 6 out of 10

Previously Disappointing:
The Ladykillers
Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Ultraviolet

New York, New York
Billy Bathgate

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Willow

Superman Returns
Blade: Trinity
Art School Confidential
Lifeforce

Bonfire of the Vanities
Exorcist: Dominion

The Black Hole
Harlem Nights

The Last Castle
Ghostbusters II


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